Despite the rocky week at the White House, President Trump tried his comedy chops at the Gridiron Club dinner on Saturday night. Similar to the the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which Trump famously boycotted last year, the event allows for presidents to schmooze and joke with the media, often in a self-roasting manner. Trump took to the occasion, and one of his main zingers was directed at Melania, joking that she might be the next one to leave the White House.
Just last week, one of Trump's most trusted aides, Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, announced that she would be stepping down from her position, making her just the latest in a long line of staff shake-ups that have kept the West Wing full of new faces.
Trump's joke not only teased fun at that fact, but at the suspected frosty relationship he has with his wife. According to CNN, Trump said:
So many people have been leaving the White House. It's actually been really exciting and invigorating 'cause you want new thought ... Now the question everyone keeps asking is, "Who is going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?"
The president and Melania's relationship has been under a microscope since news came out about alleged affairs that would have happened toward the beginning of their marriage. Melania has not commented on the matter, and Trump has denied they happened. A White House spokesperson said the alleged affairs are "an old story that is just more fake news."
But Trump quickly clarified that the joke was not based on fact. Melania's "actually having a great time" in D.C., the president told the crowd. "That is terrible, honey — but you love me, right," he said to Melania. She mouthed something back to him, and Trump added, "I won't tell you what she said."
She was not the only person he made fun of. He picked on his son-in-law Jared Kushner who had a particularly rough week, having his security clearance downgraded.
"Before I get started, I wanted to apologize for arriving a little bit late," Trump told the crowd. "You know, we're late tonight because Jared could not get through the security. I will tell you he is a good guy. And he has suffered. He is a great guy."
Even the audience was in his sights, as he joked about his traditionally strained relationship with the press and with Republicans. "It might be hard for you to believe, but I do love gatherings like these," Trump said. "They give you a chance to socialize with members of the opposition party, it's very important. And it's also great to see some Democrats here also."
Just about the only one he didn't tease harshly was himself. "My staff was concerned that I couldn't do self-deprecating humor," Trump told the crowd. He then added, "And I told them not to worry — nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do."
The president added that even Sen. Orrin Hatch was impressed with his self-deprecating humor. "Orrin said that 'Donald Trump is the best at self-deprecation in the history of America. Better than Washington and better than Lincoln," Trump joked. Hatch notably sang Trump's praises after the tax cut was signed.
To those in attendance, the president seemed to fully enjoy the evening. "This might be the most fun since watching your faces on election night," Trump told the crowd.